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Linux Laptop - Samsung's $249 ARM-Based Chromebook Runs Ubuntu & openSUSE

By Staff Reporter , Nov 01, 2012 01:22 PM EDT
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Samsung's $249 Chromebook is a notebook designed to run Google Chrome, but the laptop can run other operating systems as well, including Linux.

Google introduced its new Samsung-made Chromebook on Thursday, Oct. 18, and just days after the announcement a Google developer has figured out how to run Ubuntu on the notebook.

The third-generation Chromebook is the first iteration to pack an ARM-based processor, and it's also one of the first machines to ship with a chip based on the new ARM Cortex-A15 design. Because Ubuntu and other Linux-based operating systems already support ARM architecture, getting the Chromebook to run a different OS is not that difficult.

After seeing the developer Olof Johansson got the new Chromebook running on Ubuntu, ARM Andrew Wafaa announced on Oct. 25 that he had ported openSUSE to run on the device. Meanwhile, blogger George McBay posted a guide for accessing some of the underlying features of the Chrome operating system without affecting its behavior.

As detailed in McBay's guide, users can bring up a Linux terminal and install the Go programming language, or other preferred software. Chrome is actually based on Linux, more specifically a specialized version of Gentoo Linux.

One of the main advantages of Google's Chrome operating system is that all settings, apps, and other preferences are automatically synced with the user's other devices and backed up online. Making changes to the Gentoo system will mean sacrificing those synchronization features, but one can still use Chrome OS while also running some other Linux software.

The Samsung Chromebook sports an 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, packs a Samsung Exynos 5250 ARM Cortex-A15 processor under the hood, has 2GB of RAM, and offers roughly 6.5 hours of battery life.

Other specs include 16GB of built-in storage, 802.11n Wi-Fi, one Bluetooth 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI output, and a VGA camera. The Chromebook has a 10-second boot time and instant resume from sleep.

Google's latest Chrome OS system is simply called "the new Samsung Chromebook," and is designed to be cheaper, faster, and easier to use than comparable laptops. The laptop's availability, however, is limited to the U.S. and UK.

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